Cigarette by Per Hagman

Cigarette by Per Hagman

Swedish fiction

Original title – Cigarett

Translator -Elinor Fahrman

Source – review copy

I have enjoyed all the books that Nordisk books have been bring out Duncan the owner seems to have great taste for the books he selects from Scandinavia. Her we have the debut novel from the Swedish writer `Per Hagman this caused a scandal when it first came out in the early nineties as the Local literary press say how can a serious publisher put out a book which is just a lost of nights out and drugs and one night stands and call it a novel. Per Hagman at the time maybe lived the life of the narrator of this book he early on in his career he made a living out working in restaurant whilst he worked as a freelance writer and dj at the same time. Cigarette was his debut novel he has since written 6 more novels his second novel Pool was made into a film. This is his debut in English.

Viktor arrives with four bottles of wine. He asks how far in we are and Micke says he’s on his fourth or fifth beer.

“Better hurry up then” He pulls a corkscrew out of his pocket and smile. Victor looks splendidly correct in his white shirt and black tie and expensive which corduroys. Probably has something to do with him being a secretary or something at some law firm.

One of the first nights out described in the books as they start drinking

The book follows our Narrator as we follow his life as he works as a waiter in the Hard Rock Cafe in Stockholm the year is 1989 (which is about the time I first start to go out so this remind me partly of my journey in my late teens and early twenties when I went out and drank most weekends) This is a man that like many of this generation works maybe that is just working he tries to get by then live it hard at night with the people he work Micke with those he has seen in the Hard Rock Cafe those pretty folks follows his nights out after work the girls . Then the flip side of that is also seen the connection with his parents when they visit also the past is a counter point to the drinking the drugs and the culture of the time  which Hagman shows his narrator doing. For me it was like falling back thirty years remember the way I avoid work at times and used to go out. What it captures is a age gone it is as I said in the intro just a auto fiction piece of. nights out. It is a world of Hedonism that maybe isn’t there anymore.

Start work at half nine. I’m pretty much the only one of the staff who didn’t go out the night before. everyone’s hangover and sluggish the final couple of hours and I find out the police raided the Pipeline last night and that Melody might be closing down.

Lunch starts and the daily special is fish burger and we joke about how disgusting it looks and hope it’s not the staff food.

There is always the Morning after the night before but he missed out (I thought about how the face of here where I have lived since my mid twenties the changing bars , clubs I wonder if the Stockholm of the book is still there I doubt it!!)

It is hard to describe the book as it is just nights out and it is compelling if like me that was your life in a small part it was the last gasp of a world before the smartphone took over. Hagman is known for this type of novel books that capture the hedonism of living at night of going out of one night stands drinking and drugs . I think this is a far away land to me know I rarely drink these days mainly my monthly or so lads night (well now afternoon out ) and I was never one for drugs. I have even been a non smoker for nearly 8 years(I love the Swedish cover of this book which has a nod to the old gitanes cigarette packing). this was a cult classic I can see why its a shame it didn’t come out at the time the 90s it would sat well along books from the likes of Irvine welsh, those early Will self books, Alex Garland  and Brett Easton Ellis ( what maybe was the culture of the time that lad culture that was just coming to the fore in the early 90s)  all capture in some part the hedonism and maybe last time we meet had sex and it wasn’t an app or such that have changed this world of dating and nights out for ever. I feel it is largely a work of Auto fiction it seems this may have been the writers own world in some part. so if you were a fan of some of the writers I have mentioned or just want a book describing being young in 90’s Stockholm this would be the book for you ? Have you a favourite book that touches your teen – twenties ?

Winstons score – A – A reminder of a bygone time and way of life a lost world of youth

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1streading
    May 20, 2022 @ 18:46:43

    Like you I’m a fan of Nordisk books though I’m not sure this is for me – I didn’t get on with Wretchedness and it sounds rather similar.


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May 2022


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